The nuclear deal with Iran was abandoned by the United States under the Trump administration, and negotiations to revive the agreement in Vienna were suspended in late June after six rounds between Iran, China, Germany, France, Russia, Britain and – indirectly – the United States. The Biden administration has promised to re-enter the agreement, but the president’s negotiators have been confronted with tough talks and decisions on how to do it. At the same time, Iran began enriching uranium again as the Trump administration pulled the United States out of the deal and has become more belligerent in the Middle East as a new hard-line leadership comes to power and Iranian-backed militias continue to attack U.S. troops.
Biden held a meeting with three of the leaders of nations party to this agreement – German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – on Saturday at the G20. The leaders said afterwards that they were “convinced that it is possible to quickly reach and implement an understanding of the return to full compliance” of Iran’s nuclear deal.
The meeting came two days after the United States imposed new sanctions on Iran over its drone program, and less than a week after Tehran announced it would return to nuclear talks in Vienna after a four-month hiatus.
U.S. officials are very skeptical that renewed talks on how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program will yield the desired results, and are actively discussing imposing sanctions on Tehran.
Sources in Washington told CNN that there is an ongoing debate in the Biden administration on how to proceed and how much to increase pressure on Iran, with some sources believing the United States and its allies are now more willing to impose Iran a higher price for failing. to reach agreement if Tehran continues to take measures incompatible with the 2015 nuclear deal and bring it closer to developing a nuclear weapon.
U.S. officials have previously said they want the United States to return to the negotiating table in late November. But the negotiators selected by Iran’s new hardline leadership are openly opposed to the nuclear deal, leaving some optimism in Washington.
When Sunday, whether his administration will respond if Iran launches drone strikes or carries out any other provocation, Biden replied, “We will continue to respond.”